ServeNext.org is now accepting applications for its 2011 Field Program

Patti Kurtz, 2010 ServeNext Field Organizer

ServeNext.org is now accepting applications for its 2011 Field Program, placing part-time organizers throughout the country to help build networks of service supporters and stakeholders and to advocate for Federal support of service.

To give potential applicants a first hand perspective on what it’s like to be a ServeNext Organizer, 2010 Organizer Patti Kurtz shares her experience.

I applied to be a ServeNext Organizer because…
Patti: I had an amazing year in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, and I wanted to make sure opportunities like this exist for other people as well.  After my year in service, I moved to Chicago and got a job in advertising with a private company.  While I love my job, I also wanted to find something else I could do outside of work to give back to my community and continue to be a leader in my community as I was trained to be in my year of service.  I also saw the great potential in bringing together people (businesses, organizations, volunteers, politicians, etc.) to work towards one common goal of advancing national service programs.

The training retreat in Washington D.C. …
Patti: Fun and very informative.  Not only did we get to know the other Organizers and the staff, but we learned a lot of relevant information to prepare us to hit the ground running in our local network.

The first thing I did was …
Patti: Call all of my friends that I knew would be interested in joining my network in Chicago.  I also called everyone else I knew who was interested in this cause to tell them how excited I was – now that I fully understood what it was I was doing.

I was surprised …
Patti: About how little I knew about my local and national government and how critical of a roll ServeNext is playing for national service programs.  Before, I always kept my fingers crossed that national programs, such as the one I completed, would survive the continual budget cuts.  Now, I was given the opportunity to actually learn how to and do something about ensuring these programs exist in our communities – and continue to grow in number.

Building a local ServeNext Network …
Patti: Is hard work!  It doesn’t happen in a day, but it’s been great seeing how many people I can get on board to join the cause.  Being a non-partisan advocacy group makes it a lot easier to get people on board, and we are sending such a positive message – it’s hard to say no.  It takes diligence and perseverance, but it’s definitely worth it to see how many people care and want to get involved.

During the 2010 elections …
Patti: I had my first experience on “the campaign trail”.  It was very nerve racking to talk to the candidates, and I got super anxious before talking to each of them.  We prepared before talking to each of them, which helped, but it was still a bit of a rush to interact with them.  Overall, we received positive feedback, and we were successful in engaging the candidates.  After the intitial introduction, it was much easier!  I could talk about how impactful my year in service was for days, and the candidate actually cared enough to listen.

Engaging members of Congress …
Patti: Has been both easier and harder than I imagined.  Being unfamiliar with the political scene in my city, I had to spend some time figuring out who was who and how I can get in contact with them.  Once I was able to get face time, it wasn’t as overwhelming as I had though.  Now I can safely say I’m an active member of my community, and I have a voice about what happens in my district.

I have learned …
Patti: That I knew nothing about the importance or impact of advocacy.  I also learned that being politically active in my community doesn’t mean I have to choose a side – there are opportunities to get involved on a non-partisan level.  I also learned a lot about the people who represent me, and that there are even more people out there who have no idea about the importance of national and community service.

Overall …
Patti: This was a life-changing experience.  I finally found a way to apply my passion for the cause on a local level.  I am also still able to be involved in national service without having to give another full year of my time.  It’s a great addition to my busy life!

ServeNext …
Patti: Gives us the opportunity to do something great!  I’m a full believer in the idea to “be the change you wish to see in the world”, and now I can actually live by this motto everyday.

The mission of ServeNext.org is to use the power of grassroots action to advance volunteerism, service, and AmeriCorps as strategies to tackle our most pressing social challenges and strengthen U.S. democracy.

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